New Delhi: Bong Joon-ho’s South Korean movie Parasite made history by becoming the first film not in English language to win an Academy Award for the Best Picture.
Only 11 foreign-language films have been nominated for Best Picture in the past. Parasite’s win, therefore, signifies “a victory for a community that still struggles to be seen,” writes CNN.
The win also comes at a time when the Oscars have been criticised for being racially-biased against people of colour and overlooking Asian performers.
When asked about the lack of Korean representation at the Oscars, Bong had earlier remarked: “It’s a little strange but it’s not a big deal. The Oscars are not an international film festival. They’re very local.”
Parasite is a dark comedy that ends in tragedy when the lives of two families — one rich, and the other poor — intersect for the worse.
The Kims, belonging to a lower class, con the wealthy Parks into hiring each member of their family but an unexpected twist unravels the deeply-entrenched hierarchies of social division.
Film explores class divisions
Parasite examines the divisions of class through many plot-twists and visual metaphors.
Even though the Kims pretend to be unrelated to one another and relatively ‘better off’ than they actually are, in order to secure jobs in the Park household, the reality of their poverty never escapes them.
In one scene, the Parks are shown leaving their house to go on a camping trip. The Kims then decide to occupy the house. But a storm forces the Parks to return and the Kims scramble to escape.
While the Parks sleep comfortably, the Kims are forced to return to their basement apartment that is flooded with sewage water.
Bong makes ample use of the camera to explore the poverty and squalor that is usually hidden from sight. The film shows deprivation in the most unexpected of places.
Bong has described the film as a “depiction of ordinary people who fall into unavoidable commotion” in a statement released earlier.
Bong’s other award-winning films
Some of Bong’s other films have also revolved around issues surrounding class-divisions and capitalism.
The Chris Evan’s-starer Snowpiercer (2013), which is directed and co-written by Bong, is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film about a train carrying the last surviving humans and going around the globe in an endless loop. The train’s compartments are divided along the lines of class, and the plot thickens when those at the back of the train decide to lead a revolution.
His 2017 film Okja is about a little girl who tries to save a giant animal that she has raised from mass slaughter. It won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes in 2017.
“Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” said Bong at the Golden Globes this year, when accepting an award for Parasite.